Acting as an accessory
While there is no longer any general law requiring a person to voluntarily report a crime, it is an offence to act as an accessory (a person who assists in the commission of a crime) to an offender by:
- assisting an offender to escape apprehension or prosecution, or
- hindering the investigation of an offence (such as lying to the police), or
- assisting in disposing of the proceeds of the offence.
[Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) s 241]
However, it is not an offence for certain professionals (for example, a lawyer, doctor or minister of religion) to give certain information or assistance to an offender as professional privilege may apply as long as it is not in the furtherance of a crime.
The maximum penalty for acting as an accessory will be determined by the penalty applicable to the principal offence.
- Where the maximum penalty for the principal offence is life imprisonment, the maximum penalty for an accessory is 10 years
- Where the maximum penalty for the principal offence is 10 years or more (but not life), the maximum penalty for an accessory is 7 years
- Where the maximum penalty for the principal offence is 7 years or more (but less than 10), the maximum penalty for an accessory is 4 years
- In any other case, the maximum penalty for an accessory is 2 years or the same as the maximum penalty for the principal offence, whichever is the lesser
A person who guarantees a suspect’s bail, and who knows (or reasonably suspects) that the suspect has breached a term or condition of the bail agreement, must take reasonable steps to inform the police, or risk having to pay some or all of the amount guaranteed and may also be charged and fined [Bail Act 1985 s 17A]. The maximum penalty is $1 250.
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